Australia and Nauru urged to help sex assault victim

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UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville said the victim of the alleged rape remains afraid of reprisals by her attacker on the island of Nauru. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

Authorities in Australia and the Pacific Ocean state of Nauru faced calls on Tuesday to help a Somali woman who was allegedly raped on the tiny island nation, amid concerns about her fragile mental and physical condition.

UN human rights office, OHCHR, said that the woman, who's identified only as "Abyan", is now 15 weeks pregnant and deeply traumatised by what has happened.

OHCHR said it is aware of a growing number of sexual assault and rape allegations since Australia restarted its policy of transferring asylum seekers to Nauru for processing in 2012.

Daniel Johnson has more.

UN human rights office (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva that the alleged attack on the Somali woman in Nauru was not an isolated case.

He added that the victim, who's been given the pseudonym "Abyan" to protect her identity, is now nearly four months pregnant.

She was returned 11 days ago from Australia to Nauru without a termination having taken place, Colville said, adding that the woman had no chance of an abortion on Nauru.

"She's in a very fragile mental and physical condition and is deeply traumatised by her experiences … She has refused to give information to the Nauru police about her attacker because she is understandably afraid of reprisals."

Home to around eleven hundred asylum-seekers and refugees and less than 10,000 islanders, Nauru is nearly 3,000 kilometres off Australia's northern coastline.

Along with Papua New Guinea, Nauru provides Australia what the UN has described as "offshore processing centres" for asylum-seekers.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Colville expressed concern that the perpetrators of other alleged attacks have not been caught, before adding that some of those sheltering on Nauru are in such distress that they say they would rather die than stay on the island.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’14″


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